Fiction notes: Why Muscles Do Not Make a Man

15/01/2023 at 9:30 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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It is a truth universally acknowledged that when Woman meets potential Mate, one of the things she probably will notice is his muscles (or lack of them). In primal times, it mattered, of course, that a partner would be strong enough to help protect your future children. But does this matter today, in romantic fiction or, indeed, in life?

I have a dog who is stronger than me. Yet he looks to me, and to the other humans in the household, for affection, food and shelter. His physical strength is trumped by his need to be part of the pack. In our human world, the patriarchy became dominant by building on the advantages of muscular strength. But physicality has its limitations. Intelligence, collaboration, adaptability, inventiveness and agility are all useful attributes for a potential mate of any gender.

In fiction, it can be fun to combine different strengths in one delicious package. Think of Superman, the nerdy, bespectacled reporter, with muscles that can save countless others. Or the popular trope of the sexy librarian, in glasses. Glasses are a quick way to suggest intelligence, but maybe there are other descriptors that can work in less expected ways?

The male love interest in my current writing has a healthy, toned body and not, so far, any sign of glasses. But his most attractive quality has nothing at all to do with muscles, although he does use his strength to protect. So what exactly is this man’s mysterious appeal? Well, here’s the thing. He’s kind. And kindness can be the sexiest quality of all. (Though he does have to learn that, sometimes, you have to be cruel to be kind.)

So, what characteristics do you like to see in a hero – or a potential mate? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Illustration: Self portrait by Philipp Otto Runge, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

4 Comments »

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  1. Hello Susan,

    I think kindness and honesty can sometimes shine in someone’s eyes but I don’t think it is necessarily something you look for. The ‘Superman’ look can be off-putting. But I am not a young person and perhaps today’s young women are more aware of the potential pitfalls. There are more ways than one of looking at a person.

    Best of luck with your writing.

    Diane.

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Diane. I do agree with you about Superman. Those muscles, without the shy intelligence of Clark Kent, would simply not have the same appeal. I hope today’s younger women are more aware of the pitfalls. They certainly have access to a lot more information than our pre-internet generation.
      Stay well,
      Suzanne

      Like

  2. Kindness all the way!

    Liked by 1 person


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